For Immediate Release—Monday, Nov. 20, 2006


Mary E. McCrank

Media Relations Officer

(585) 245-5516

Herbert Hawley Makes a Generous Donation to SUNY Geneseo

GENESEO, N.Y.—Herbert J. Hawley, a longtime friend of the State University of New York at Geneseo, has committed a generous gift annuity of $100,000 to the college.

The contribution, made to the Geneseo Foundation Oct. 27, will go toward the establishment of the Jean M. Besser Scholarship. The first scholarship will be awarded in 2007 and will be given to a student majoring in music, theater or art.

"There are three issues I care deeply about," says Hawley. "They are hunger, poverty and a lack of education. Setting up this type of scholarship seemed to be the most satisfying thing I could do to promote education. These three issues were extremely important to Jean as well."

Besser, the woman for whom the scholarship is named, was a longtime friend of Hawley before she passed away Aug. 15, 2000. From 1950 until 1981, Besser served as art supervisor at the Holcomb School at the college. She graduated from Geneseo with a bachelor's degree in elementary education in 1943. In 1950, she received her master's degree from Syracuse University in audio-visual supervision.

Besser was known for being extremely active in alumni affairs. She was given the Geneseo Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award in 1988, which recognizes an individual who has made exceptional contributions to the Geneseo Alumni Association. 

On top of this award, Besser also was the recipient of the Society of Old Main Award in 1993, which honors members of the 50-Year Club who provide outstanding leadership to the Geneseo Alumni Association and who demonstrate strong leadership after graduating. Besser also served as a longtime member of the alumni board until her passing in 2000. 

Hawley has an equally philanthropic history of supporting the college and its arts programs. Besides giving numerous monetary donations to Geneseo over the years, he has become an informal promoter of the arts by making people throughout the town and region aware of performances and showcases at the college.

"My promotion of Geneseo to start with was largely vocal, and now it has become, happily for me, strongly financial," says Hawley.

"Herb's generosity will make a wonderful impact at Geneseo in so many ways. It will honor Jean Besser's memory, it will reward students from the School of the Arts and it will hopefully inspire others to consider making such a contribution," says Kim Faber, assistant vice president of college advancement. 

Hawley's actions certainly do work to inspire others. As I walked out the door of his home in Geneseo, he handed me a Geneseo event flyer. "Interested in classical music?" asks Hawley. 

Hawley, a native of Perry, N.Y., received his bachelor's degree from Cornell University in 1946. He has lived in Geneseo for the past six years.


Written by Joe Mignano, public relations intern in the Office of Communications and Publications